There’s been a lot of debate this year about “rainbow washing” — companies that use a rainbow flag or LGBTQ+ imagery during Pride Month to promote their brand, services, and products to imply solidarity without actual support or benefit to the LGBTQ+ community. I have to admit that, as a gay teen, corporate displays of gay acceptance–even when coded or veiled–were meaningful to me; however, in 2021, when there is an expectation of allyship and no reputational risk for supporting LGBTQ+ causes, visibility in advertising is no longer enough. The LGBTQ+ community and our allies expect authentic commitment in January as well June.
In honor of Pride Month, I want to spotlight six financial services brands that provide real support to the LGBTQ+ community and have executed successful marketing campaigns in celebration of Pride Month.
Daylight is a new bank built by LGBTQ+ people for LGBTQ+ people.
The bank allows customers to use their chosen name on their debit card — regardless of what their ID says. It also features automatic savings tools and goal-setting capabilities to help customers manage their money. The app has a built-in community where users can share financial goals and get advice from other LGBTQ+ people.
For Pride 2021, their marketing team created a Shop Queer All Year campaign highlighting their favorite LGBTQ+ businesses to support during Pride and all year long.
Founded by immigrants, Amalgamated Bank is the largest union-owned bank in America, and prides itself on being “America’s Socially Responsible Bank.” The bank is committed to environmental and social responsibility, and has made its mission to support sustainable organizations, progressive causes and social justice movements.
Recognized as “One of the Best Places to Work” in 2021 by HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, Amalgamated is a member of the HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act supporting HR 5, which would expand civil, housing and employment rights to the LGBTQ+ community, and testified against the Trump-era rule change eliminating antidiscrimination safeguards for LGBTQ+ healthcare in 2020. The bank provides pro bono services for the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and signed on as a coalition partner with Compete America to champion equal employment opportunities for LGBTQ+ Americans. As a member of Open Finance and Out Leadership, Amalgamated was the first bank to add LGBTQ+ to the definition of its board diversity standards for shareholder voting, and launched Hate is Not Charitable (a campaign to stop the philanthropic support of hate groups discriminating against marginalized groups).
They were the first bank to allow transgender individuals to open bank accounts in their chosen name, and proudly provides their staff with insurance plans that cover hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery.
For 15 consecutive years, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has named US Bank a Best Place to Work for LBGTQ Equality. US Bank received a perfect score of 100% on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2021 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) — the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality, according to US Bank’s press release.
To celebrate Pride 2021, US Bank donated $25,000 to the HRC Foundation’s Transgender Justice Initiative. It also updated its annual Pride splash page that highlights free banking resources for the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2019, US Bank launched a Pride-themed debit card, which is still popular among account holders; over 250,000 people have requested the card to date. Customers can request it when opening an account or through the online portal for current customers.
BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank has been a proud supporter of Pride for over two decades. It was also the first bank to ever issue a True Name debit card for transgender and non-binary customers.
For 2021, BMO Harris Bank is running a comprehensive marketing campaign called Pride Lives Here, featuring everyday Pride moments from customers and employees.
To show off its Pride in the workplace, BMO Harris has launched a new Road to Allyship Training Program that gives employees the resources they need to be supportive allies of their LGBTQ+ coworkers and customers.
Like the other institutions on our list, BMO Harris Bank was named a 2021 Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality and has received a perfect 100% on the CEI.
Citi has a long track record of creating an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees, as well as advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, while supporting global, national and local LGBTQ+ causes. For years, Citi provided benefits to same-sex partners before marriage equality was recognized by the US in 2015–and continues to provide benefits to employees in countries without equal marriage rights and actively campaigns for equality wherever possible. Citi enables trans and non-binary employees to use their chosen names in the workplace and offers insurance that provides gender-affirming healthcare.
In 2020, Citi became the first major US bank to allow trans and non-binary customers to use their chosen name on their credit card. The bank announced the program during Trans Awareness Week and launched a highly visible ad campaign in mainstream media outlets to bring attention to the necessity of gender-affirming programs such as True Name.
JP Morgan has a long history of support for the LGBTQ+ community and has been named a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality for over 16 years and has earned a perfect score on the HRC CEI.
In January 2021, the bank pledged to donate $5 million to nonprofits that aid LGBTQ+ families that were most impacted during the pandemic.
Inside the workplace, JP Morgan has a dedicated LGBT+ Executive Council comprising “out” senior leaders who advocate for the community and strategize ways JP Morgan can advance LGBTQ+ inclusion and equity. It also has a PRIDE business resource group with more than 27,000 LGBTQ+ employees and allies who are dedicated to promoting an inclusive environment.
If these banks can teach us anything, it is that the real work of being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community is what companies do when the rainbow flags come down at the end of June.